Apply: Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism

The Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism program is designed to be a cohesive extension of prior graduate work in urban design and/or a relevant design field. To be eligible for admission, applicants must show evidence of distinguished academic work in the field or closely related fields, or distinguished work in the intended area of concentration. Candidates must have exceptionally strong writing and research potential, demonstrated in writing samples submitted with their application for admission. All applicants are required to submit a clear, concise, and rigorous research proposal for a detailed subject of study at the time of initial application. These proposed areas of study should be congruent with the interests and expertise of at least one member of the program faculty, and demonstrate potential to contribute to the field of sustainability and urbanism.

Admission to the DrSU program is highly competitive. A master's degree in urban design or the equivalent is required. Candidates who do not already hold a master's degree in urban design, but hold a professional degree in a related field such as architecture, landscape architecture, and/or planning, can apply with the intent to complete the Master of Urban Design degree at Washington University as a prerequisite to doctoral studies.

The application period for fall 2019 admission to our Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism program is now closed.
Information from our current admission cycle is outlined below. To download the pdf version of the application instruction sheet from the most recent admission cycle, click here.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list or have questions about the doctoral program curriculum, please fill out our contact form or contact Kathleen O'Donnell, Graduate Admissions Coordinator, by phone at 314.935.6227 or 800.295.6227 (within continental United States).

Required Application Materials

All candidates must submit an online application. The following application materials may be submitted over time; however, all application materials must be received by the application deadline. No applicant will be considered for admission until all required items have been received.


1. Personal information.

2. A statement of purpose (five-page maximum). The statement of purpose should introduce yourself and outline how your past academic and practice experience has led to your current interest in the Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism program and your specific research proposal. It should also clearly indicate promise for your success in advanced graduate study. The statement should outline anticipated areas of focus and research questions of interest in enough detail to convince the selection committee that you understand the scope of research in the discipline and how your proposed research engages with current program faculty research.

Specifically, the statement of purpose should include:

- A one-page executive summary that precedes the detailed statement of purpose.
- A summary of prior research experiences, courses, or projects that have prepared you for doctoral study.
- Your intended research area of focus within the discipline of sustainable urbanism, and research questions of interest.
- The range of disciplines, discourses, or methodologies you hope to explore during your doctoral studies.
- Speculation on how your research will uniquely contribute to and advance the discipline.

3. An autobiography and curriculum vitae. Provide a one-page autobiography plus a detailed curriculum vitae, which should include honors, educational accomplishments, publications, and relevant work or research experience (if applicable).

4. Writing sample. Include one writing sample on research you conducted. Indicate with whom you conducted the research, the title of the project, what your responsibilities were, and the outcome. A published sample is welcome but not required. Writing should reflect high scholarly or technical quality as expected in your field.

5. Supplemental materials (optional), such as research papers, books, and conference presentations, are welcome, provided that they indicate evidence in support of your research proposal. You may upload these materials to the online application system (PDF format). You are also welcome to mail hard copies directly to our office; the mailing address is listed on the final page of this instruction sheet. Please note that hard copies will not be returned to you.

6. Three letters of recommendation, to be completed by teachers, professionals, or other individuals well acquainted with your major area of study. These three letters will be submitted through the online application process. Please note that, along with other contact information, you will need to provide each recommender's accurate e-mail address.

7. A non-refundable $85 application fee. Note: The $85 application fee will be waived for applicants who complete their online application by December 14. Beginning December 15, the application fee is $85, and must be paid online by credit card.

8. Official transcripts. Upload a digital copy (PDF format) of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. When submitting digital academic records from multiple schools, please organize those records for submission as a single PDF upload.

*NOTE: The summer before enrollment, applicants who are admitted and plan to enroll must arrange for us to receive official, hard-copy transcripts. At that time, only official transcripts sent to us directly from the schools attended will be allowed. Also in the summer before enrollment, students who have attended a Chinese university must have their degree verified—in English—by the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center. The degree confirmation should include verification of the English versions of final transcripts and degree certificates. All verification reports must be sent to us directly by the CDGDC to be considered official. Official transcripts as well as degree verifications are due to our office no later than August 1.

9. GRE scores are highly recommended, as they provide an important measure of your abilities and academic strengths. To ensure official test score reports arrive from the testing service as needed, please use our institution code (6929) and department code (4401) to share your official test information with us. (Questions? Contact

10. English language scores (if the applicant’s native language is not English). A Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score is required if the applicant’s native language is not English. In accordance with Washington University’s language standards, the minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are 90 on the Internet-based test, 577 on the paper-based test, or 233 on the computer-based test. The IELTS score minimum is 6.5. Note that an exception to the English test score requirement is made for candidates who have studied a minimum of 3 years toward a baccalaureate degree in the United States. To ensure official TOEFL test score reports arrive as needed, please use our institution code (6929) and department code (12) when making arrangements with the testing agency. IELTS scores must be sent in hard-copy form to our office (see address on the final page of these instructions.)

11. Portfolio. A digital portfolio consisting of examples of scholarly, academic, creative, and/or professional work must be uploaded to our online application system. The portfolio should include evidence of past experience in urban design. If possible, this work should be related to the applicant's proposed research topic.

Important: Applicants submitting work done collaboratively, either in school or in the profession, should be as specific as possible about the extent of their personal involvement in such projects.

Portfolio Formatting/Technical Requirements
- Please submit the portfolio as a single PDF document, with a maximum file size of 20 MB and a maximum resolution of 150 dpi. All work should be produced in high-resolution digital images.

- Prepare the file for computer monitor viewing (i.e., horizontal orientation), with text that is at least 8 points large so that it is legible when viewed full-screen.

- Applicants may submit a maximum of 25 pages (note: 2-page spreads count as one page).

- The layout of the portfolio pages should be clear, with brief descriptions for each piece or project.


Applicants submitting IELTS scores must arrange to have the testing service send a hard-copy version of the scores to our office.

You may also send hard-copy versions of any supplemental materials (research papers, books, conference presentations, etc.). Please note that these hard-copy materials will not be returned to you.

Our mailing address is:
Admissions: Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1079, Givens Hall, Room 105
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130

Demonstration of Mastery of the Discipline of Urban Design

If accepted to the Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism program, students who do not already hold a post-graduate degree in urban design equivalent to Washington University’s Master of Urban design post-professional degree are required to either 1) demonstrate mastery of core material covered in Washington University’s Master of Urban design post-professional degree program or 2) establish equivalency of core skills and knowledge through an adjusted plan of study as designated on an individual basis by the Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism faculty. It is the student’s responsibility to demonstrate equivalency.

Non-Discrimination Policy

Washington University in St. Louis encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid, and employment. The University does not discriminate in access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability or genetic information. Applicants with a prior criminal history will not be automatically disqualified from consideration for admission. Inquiries about compliance should be addressed to the University's Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Washington University, Campus Box 1184, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130.